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Reporters on the Job

Whatever sells: In Sri Lanka, correspondent Anuj Chopra talked to refugees heading home from relief camps after the recent fighting between Tamil Tiger forces and the Sri Lankan government.

In Muttur, a town hit by mortar shelling, Anuj ran into a Tamil man, S. Thangaratnam, who'd fled from Sampur, a former Tiger-held town. "I met him in front of a house devastated by shelling. He was lugging a shell left by the Tamil Tigers at a camp. Before fleeing, he'd taken it with him. He had been carrying it for many days. Thangaratnam is unemployed, and says he intends to sell the shell for its iron value."

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Fighting in Sri Lanka has robbed many people of a stable source of income, says Anuj. "This man found this rather strange way to make ends meet."

A hospitable Afghan governor: Staff writer Ilene Prusher was saddened to hear of the assassination Sunday of Abdel Hakim Taniwal, an Afghan provincial governor. "I have pleasant memories of interviewing him four years ago, when he had taken a bold move: leaving the comforts of a life in Australia to return to his native Afghanistan," Ilene says. "President Hamid Karzai had encouraged him to come back. Taniwal had once been a lecturer in sociology and anthropology at Kabul University, and Karzai hoped he would help build a more forward-looking country."

From the start, Ilene says, Taniwal seemed to land in a sticky position in a province known for its heavy tribal control (see "A Show of Force in Afghanistan" May 3, 2002).

"Taniwal was grandfatherly, intellectual, and kind, and received me with the honors you would afford to an important visitor," Ilene recalls. "This struck me as particularly generous given that he had just come back, and seemed unsure of his footing. Some local officials did not like the idea of receiving women at political meetings, but he was happy to receive a reporter from the Monitor."

Though people gave him a hearty reception on his first day at work, there was some pessimism, Ilene says. " 'He doesn't have his own militia here,' " one observer told me, 'so he'll never survive.' "

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy World editor


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